Not just hot air, 100 million degree plasma
Juliet Kirby is working on fusion energy, a potentially clean, carbon-free power source with virtually unlimited fuel.
It’s the same process that powers the sun – but to do it on earth the fuel needs to be ten times hotter than the core of the sun. The ITER reactor, being built in the south of France, will operate at temperatures between 150 and 300 million degrees Celsius, at which the fusion fuel (isotopes of hydrogen) is a charged glowing gas called plasma.
Our experiments here at ANU Physics test materials that will make the best wall for containing this artificial sun: this picture shows the Magpie plasma experiment in which the interaction of plasma with different materials can be studied (hot tip, tungsten’s looking good).